Carrie Fisher – RIP

A vinegary wit, the product of a Hollywood upbringing that looked delicious to people who thought Eddie Fisher deserved what he got, an irony she exploited in Postcards from the Edge and Wishful Drinking. Other children of movie stars could only shake their heads at the movement from teenage object of desire, eating an apple with her mouth and Warren Beatty with her eyes in Shampoo, and Princess Leia Organa to Princess Leia, Pez dispenser. If Carrie Fisher barely survived the Star Wars phenomenon, there was a sense in which she relished how it spawned her two greatest roles: the Insider, hobbled by myriad addictions, doctoring dozens of scripts that had never seen a punchline; and the Survivor, just barely.

A limited actress but liberated from the Star Wars universe an interesting screen presence. She’s fine in Soapdish and When Harry Met Sally but terrific opposite Dianne Wiest in Hannah and Her Sisters playing the best friend whose passive aggressiveness hides a malicious ambition (“I hate April. She’s pushy,” Wiest thinks on a glum car ride home, after Fisher has made off with a milquetoast Sam Waterston). Fisher also played crabby well, as demonstrated on the commentary track for the re-released Star Wars flicks in the early 2000s; she couldn’t believe the shit George Lucas made her memorize (“The ion cannon BLAH BLAH BLAH…). Maybe that was the moment she realized she had to write her own scripts or at least fix everyone else’s. I can’t believe no one thought of casting her as Mary Matalin.

I like a few recent anecdotes, many of which we’ll share for years. The first was recorded eight years ago on the opening of Wishful Drinking:

Conversation turned to celebrities, then to puns.

“I read a great pun the other day in The New York Times obits,” Mr. Rosenthal said, referring to a Nov. 19 obituary for Irving Brecher.

“I’ve heard of jokes dying, but puns?” Ms. Fisher retorted, not missing a beat.

Speaking of undead jokes, here she is with Ellen DeGeneres, treating her first meal ticket with the affection and contempt it deserves.

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